The Bombay high court on Friday said the police department should recover dues from the political parties concerned, if their functionaries, to whom police protection is provided, fails to give it.
The division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Girish Kulkarni also rapped Maharashtra government for continuing to provide police protection to some political leaders when they have not paid the dues for years together.
“From 2005 no payment is made, but you have continued to provide the police protection,” said the bench referring to a particular political leader whose name figured in the list of defaulters submitted by the government.
“You are not running the police department only for rich people, it is meant for everyone,” the judges said, adding, “Don’t put the general public at stake. If necessary, you run a separate agency for providing protection to private individuals.”
“Recover the dues from political parties, if the functionaries are not paying the same”, the bench said. “We want to know why dues are not recovered? Are they unable to pay or is it that you want to treat them as VIPs,” the judges added.
The bench also clarified that it was not its view that police protection should not be provided to individuals, but its only concern was to see that the it should not be a loss to the public exchequer.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Sunny Punamiya raising concern about huge outstanding dues from individuals to whom police protection is provided. He pointed out that most of the persons were either builders or businessmen, but dues are not recovered from them.
During the course of hearing public prosecutor Abhinandan Vagyani informed the bench that the police protection has been continued, despite non-payment of dues, only in case of political functionaries who are facing threat to their lives.
According to a chart submitted by Vagyani in court on Friday in all 1,034 individuals, including 242 from Mumbai, have been provided police protection across Maharashtra and average 4 policemen are deployed per person for the protection duties.
According to the same chart, 482 persons are other than constitutional functionaries like elected representatives, bureaucrats and judges of the high court and lower courts.